MANDERA, October 29 – The government launched an offensive operation in Mandera district on Wednesday, leading to the arrest of over 200 suspects and recovery of 38 assault rifles and grenade launchers.
The operation follows heightened insecurity in the region which has so far claimed 24 people, including two Administration Police officers and an army officer.
Interclan clashes between Murulle and Garre communities in the past three weeks have also led to the displacement of hundreds of families.
Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe said on Wednesday that the operation was successful and vowed it would continue until law and order is restored at the frontier town.
“The purpose of the operation is to recover all illegal firearms and prosecute suspects of murder and other criminal acts,” he told reporters at a news briefing.
Mr Kiraithe said the operation was being carried out by a combined force of the police and military personnel who have also sealed off border points to bar the suspects from crossing over to Ethiopia or Somalia.
“It is a massive operation and I can assure you none of them will run away. We have many officers stationed at the exit points,” he added.
A local leader who spoke to Capital News from Mandera however, accused the police of victimising innocent people.
“We support the operation but the mode they are using is not human. Many innocent people are suffering. They are torturing people and forcing them to show them where guns are kept,” Hassan Mohammed, a local leader in Elwak said in a telephone interview.
He said the officers were carrying out a house-to-house search.
“People are suffering here, we are just appealing to the police to stop harassing people because men, women and children are suffering,” he said.
The Police Spokesman however, denied the claims and maintained that officers carrying out the operation were within the mandate provided to them by the law.
“Those are just malicious allegations. I can assure you our officers have not done that. They are carrying out the operation at the interest of the public and humanity,” Mr Kiraithe said.
He spoke even as officials from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) led by deputy chairman Hassan Omar Hassan toured the region.
The Commission’s Communications Manager Victor Bwire told Capital News that the team was on a fact-finding mission on allegations of torture by security agents carrying out the operations.
“Our team is on the ground and is expected to file a comprehensive report,” he said.